Highgate neighbours 'devastated' by toppling of trees in Shepherd's Close

A before and after shot of the plot in Shepherd's Close

A before and after shot of the plot in Shepherd's Close - Credit: Andrea Mindlin

Highgate neighbours accused of “senseless opposition” are “devastated” after an architect toppled trees in anticipation of moving into Shepherd’s Close.  

Residents from the narrow stretch of 27 terraced houses were "very upset” to see Cypress trees and a small plot of natural vegetation razed on January 19.  

The site's owner, Didier Ryan, plans to build a house in its place but his efforts to obtain planning permission have so far been rejected. 

The director of Undercurrent Architects says a new application will be submitted after discussions with residents.  

But Andrea Mindlin, who has lived in Shepherd’s Close since 1968, said Mr Ryan’s felling of the trees felt like “revenge” for his refused planning permission and residents’ longstanding opposition.  

Kids playing in the recently razed spot in the 1970s

Kids playing in the recently razed spot in the 1970s - Credit: Vivien Tolfree

The 91-year-old told the Ham&High: “I was outraged and very sad at the loss of green space, it felt like a really hostile act.    

“The land had been left to nature and became totally overgrown, a much-appreciated bit of wilderness, surrounded by tall trees.

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“We are very upset. There’s at least 20 people here who have been feeling absolutely devastated.” 

Andrea said she feared plans for a “fanciful” house as part of any new planning application would be “totally out of place” for the character of the street.  

The proposed home and landscape design

The proposed home and landscape design - Credit: Didier Ryan

But Mr Ryan said he wanted to work with his neighbours whose “high passions” he understood, and that he apologised for the “inconvenience, noise and unfortunate removal of trees".  

“Going forward, we can either work together or continue down a path of senseless opposition,” he said in a letter to residents.  

“There are currently 27 houses in the close; eventually there will be 28. If we are unable to work together, this will be a failure on both sides, and will impact each one of us for many years to come.” 

Mr Ryan said he intended to plant mature native trees in keeping with the Parkland Walk, which his land backs onto.

However, plans for the installation of bark mulch to cover the now tarpaulin-lined plot were shelved after some weed prevention fabric and a fence were “illegally removed”.  

He also said a “get off my land” sign was placed by someone else. 

How the plot looks now 

How the plot looks now - Credit: Andrea Mindlin